Fylde coast residents facing a financial struggle this winter are being invited to apply for help from a scheme set up to provide a safety net for those in need.
The Household Support Fund was introduced by the government in the wake of its decision to end the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit, which was brought in as a temporary measure at the onset of the pandemic and ran until October.
All of Lancashire’s councils are beginning to distribute their shares of the cash pot after district authorities, including Fylde and Wyre, received allocations from Lancashire County Council, which is overseeing the fund in much of the region. The two boroughs have been awarded £150.000 and £240,000 respectively.
As a standalone authority, Blackpool Council was awarded a sum directly from the government – and has £1.7m to hand out to its residents.
Support is available for those struggling to make ends meet
Money can be provided to cover the cost of a variety of essential household expenses, including heating, water and food bills, as well as appliances such as fridges and cookers. However, individual councils will set their own priorities for how the fund is spent in their area and assess claims on a case-by-case basis.
Fylde Council is considering applications for all eligible needs, while Blackpool Council says that it is prioritising claims relating to energy and water bills, but will also consider those from people seeking support with “other essential costs if there is an impact on the household budget”.
Wyre Council is focusing on helping residents who are struggling with gas and electricity bills.
Fylde Council leader Karen Buckley said of the fund: “We are delighted to be able to facilitate the payment of these grants to those most in need during the long winter months.
“There are many people who struggle to make ends meet and these payments are essential in them being able to feed their families and stay warm this winter. If you are unsure if you are eligible, please get in touch with our friendly team who will be able to advise you of the monies available, as well as if and how you can access it.”
“The funding is available until 31st March, 2022 and we hope to support as many vulnerable people as we can this winter. We understand some may well be hesitant to access the service however we are still here to help so please get in touch.”
As The Gazette revealed last month, County Hall has been awarded £9.6m from the fund and has decided to pass on £3m to district councils for them to hand out as they see fit.
A further £3m will be spent on vouchers for use by the families of children on free school meals during forthcoming holiday periods, while allocation of the £3.6m remaining balance will be decided by the county council’s household support fund working group.
All of the authorities making payments from the fund will be subject to criteria laid down by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – including that at least half of the overall funding received must be used to support vulnerable households with children and that the money must be distributed to those who will benefit from it by 31st March, 2022.
Lancashire County Council leader Phillipa Williamson said of the cash being made available: “Over the past year a lot of work has been done to ensure the help goes to those who really need it and we know this money has helped make a difference to thousands of people at what has been a difficult time.
“The fund aims to help families, care leavers, older looked after children and vulnerable households without children, all of whom may be struggling to make ends meet.
“More than £3million has been distributed to families who qualify for free school meals to ensure meals vouchers are available over the holidays, including this Christmas, while a further £3million has been handed out by borough and district councils to those in need,” County Cllr Williamson added.
HOW TO APPLY
This is how to access the Household Support Fund in each council area:
Visit: Household support fund (blackpool.gov.uk)Fylde
DIVIDING UP THE CASH
This is how much each council in Lancashire has available to spend under the Household Support Fund:
Blackburn with Darwen – £1.6m
Blackpool – £1.7m
Burnley – £300,000
Chorley – £240,000
Fylde – £150,000
Hyndburn – £270,000
Lancaster – £360,000
Lancashire County Council – £6.6m (excludes the £3m that the authority has distributed to district authorities elsewhere in this list)
Pendle – £270,000
Preston – £420,000
Ribble Valley – £90,000
Rossendale – £180,000
South Ribble – £210,000
West Lancashire – £240,000
Wyre – £270,000